Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu,Gerry Alanguilan (Artists), Sunny Gho (Colorist)

The Story: Many of the empire and civilization of the entire Marvel universe gathers together, Avengers included, to prepare the battle against the builders.

The Review: Infinity is finally here, with the build up to it being behind us as 17 issues of Avengers were needed in order to prepare for its arrival. Now that the event has started, though, does it mean that the book has gotten the shot in the arm that it needed most of the time?

The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes as this issue brings many interesting concepts and do something that the series hasn’t done for quite a while: go big in a very explicit way. While the earlier concepts of that title always hinted at big things, those were mostly teasing or hint at what was to come. Now that the very event has arrived, the comic benefit as it brings us many new elements into play while using some of the older one.
The first one and best, in my own humble opinion, would be the very cosmic tone of the story as the scope of the story gets incredibly bigger. It’s no secret that I have a particular fondness for stories set in space, yet this one really bring a lot of the best of what these stories are about, as Hickman use the galactic council created by Bendis to great effects, showing a cohesion of the major empires to vanquish a greater threat. Many of the cosmic favourites are present, as the Shi’ar, Brood, Kree are present as well as characters like Ronan, Gladiator and Annihilus.

Another race that Hickman plays really well with are the Skrull, who gets a welcome reintegration to the larger Marvel universe as the writer use both what happened in Annihilation and Secret Invasion to build up from there, showing us a race that is on the brink or death, yet fight will all of its might to survive and stay relevant. The scene featuring Kl’rt, another fan-favourite, and the other warlord as they try to fight the builders shows a human side to these aliens as well as some nobility that really heighten the whole race. I sure do hope that Hickman will continue writing them during the tie-ins, as the rejuvenation of these aliens and the cosmic aspect makes for some interesting comics.

What’s also interesting is the pacing and the scope, as Hickman does not lose any momentum here, setting up the conflict and building up how the many denizens of the universe reacts to it. The tone is set, the importance defined and then the conflict arrives. He lose no time in giving the readers a clear continuation to what happened in Infinity while making sure this issue stands on its own. Things move fast, meaning that every line of dialogue needs to convey what happens, stay true to characterization and add to what happens, which he mostly does, to his advantage.

If there’s perhaps a small disappointment in this issue, it would be the fact that the Avengers themselves aren’t that important or even relevant to the plot and what happens. It is actually written in the issue itself that this is much bigger than them and they do participate actively to the conflict at hand, yet the emphasis is clearly put more on the rest of the universe rather than on them. It’s a minor squabble, to be sure, as the story does not forget to include them, yet their presence is merely an highlight rather than the main event in this war against the builders.

Another small disappointment is the fact that the builders, so far, aren’t exactly the best of antagonists. They are shown to be a force to reckon with, yet they are a bit non-descriptive in their motivations, their goals and just how powerful they are. They provide a good foil in terms of powers to the armies gathered, though perhaps not as much in terms of character traits.

A real highlight, though, is Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan on artistic duty, as they show they know how to draw huge cosmic battles very well. Their aliens are distinctive, respecting the classic designs by the original creators while adding a few things of their own, making them recognizable for fans. The highlights in terms of designs, though, comes as the Skrull, who are fantastic to look at. While their new and heavy armors are something new to their designs, it doesn’t remove anything of the surprisingly human emotions that the artist is able to grant them. The most impressive aspect, though, would be the cosmic battle as hundred of spaceships do battle in the depths of space. Yu is able to fill in the pages and panels with a very large amount of details without making them feel too packed or heavy for the readers to comprehend, letting the space battle and its scope speak for itself. He is also versatile in terms of emotions for his characters, as surprise, solemnity, rage, concentration and many others are seamlessly reproduced on the page and through the face of many of the characters. There are perhaps a very few number of places where the expressions ends up looking rather goofy, yet no one’s perfect.

Sunny Gho isn’t perfect either, yet he is very talented nonetheless as he shows it with his color work. With the chaos brought on the pages with the builders conflict and the various alien races, Gho goes in with the flow as he choose an equally chaotic palette to bring out the disparity between various elements. He does so without it being an utter mess, though, as everything mesh together to create a tapestry worthy of the cosmic story unfolded in this issue.

The Conclusion: Jonathan Hickman follows-up quite nicely to the introduction of his event comic by playing the cosmic elements quite well, putting a grand conflict that is illustrated with talent by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and Sunny Gho. There are some hiccups here and there, yet fans of cosmic stories shall find much to like here.

Grade: A-

Hugo Robberts Larivière